The University of Minnesota has received a seed grant the Global One Health Fund to work with Somali Agriculture Technical Group (SATG) on the project “Creating an Inter-Disciplinary Partnership to Seek Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture in Somalia.” SATG’s Dr. Hussein Haji will work with U of M Agronomy Professor Paul Porter, also a SATG board member, to lead the effort, which will explore whether improvements can be made in the quality and quantity of food-aid maize in Somalia (e.g., areas of production, handling, treatment and storage). The proposal calls for the collection and analysis of 25 food-aid maize samples and 25 locally grown maize and sorghum samples from various locations throughout Somalia (including Somaliland).

Another key objective is to build a coalition of experts to explore ways to facilitate agricultural sustainability and food security in Somalia. Over the past 20 years, in the absence of an effective and functioning government in Somalia, the country has received massive amounts of food aid. However, there is some indication that this aid is stifling Somali agricultural production. As donor agencies transition from aid to development, the agricultural sector must be strengthened and the efforts of the donor agencies modified. While this transformation is not an immediate objective of this project, it may be part of a larger, long-range effort to assist the Somali people and their government toward self-sufficiency.

The project is a collaboration among experts from the U of M’s Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Department of Plant Pathology, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, and Institute on the Environment, along with experts from SATG and Somali Ministries of Agriculture/Natural Resources. Please contact SATG if you or your organization would like to become more involved in this developing partnership.